I recently wrote an article about my father and the lessons that I learned from him, and decided that I would do a series of these.
I started with something that happened during my High School years, but as I was writing the second one, I decided I would introduce this man to you before I went on with any more of these articles.
My dad was born in the mountains of Arkansas in 1917. He was born to a Baptist preacher and a simple country woman. My grandfather share cropped for a living to support his preaching habit, and pastored as many as 4 little one room churches at a time, holding services one Sunday a month in each church. He was paid with whatever came in an offering plate, or more often, with a couple of chickens or some vegetables from someone's garden. Later, the family roamed into Missouri and down into Texas, hoeing, chopping and picking cotton as day labor. Dad was working in the fields by the time he was 4 or 5, along with his brothers and his dad. During times when the family picked cotton for money, instead of farming someone's land, he was paid 10 cents a day to the grown mens' pay of 50 cents.
My dad, over his lifetime, saw wondrous changes in the world. He began his life with horses and mules as the main source of transportation. I have an old photo of the family when my father was about 6, all dressed in their Sunday Go To Meeting clothes, sitting in a buck board pulled by 2 mules. They were leaving for home when the picture was taken by one of the members of the churches my Grandfather pastored. From this, he saw the world change to men walking on the moon, computers in homes, and space flight so common that it doesn't even rate being the lead story on the news anymore.
He, just like his brothers, was taken out of school after 4th grade. My Grandfather informed them that they could read, write, and "do their sums" and a man did not need to know more than that to walk behind a mule on a plow. This was the way these people lived, and the expectation was that it would always be that way. Nobody ever moved far from home, and nobody was expected to. I still have cousins that live within 10 miles of where my father was born.
He enlisted in the Navy at 24, a couple of months after Pearl Harbor. He was working on a dairy farm at the time, on a deferred job, and didn't have to go, but he went anyway. He was in the Pacific through the war, on a Destroyer Escort.
After the war, he went back to Arkansas, but didn't stay long. He felt that he could make a better life in the city, and he chose Dallas. His brothers ridiculed him, and told him he'd come back. They told him he couldn't make it in the city, but he remained in Dallas the rest of his life.
He met my mother here in Texas, and they married. Like many others, their start was short on money and long on hope. They lived in one room apartments and rooming houses until they could afford to rent a house, and finally buy one. They had my 3 sisters, and then, in 1963 they were blessed (or perhaps cursed) with a son. And, so, I came into the world, the 6th member, the 4th child, and the only son, in this family.
Even though his education was limited to say the least, he made it. He went to work for Singer Sewing Machine, and eventually worked his way up to Regional Manager of 5 stores. He eventually purchased one of these stores, and supported a family out of it. He was a born salesman.
By the mid '70's the world had changed to the point that people weren't making thier own clothes anymore, and the demand for sewing machines was drying up. He sold his store, and went to work for a local company that produces sausage and bacon for the retail market. As I said, he was a born salesman, and he sold sausage as well as he sold sewing machines.
After a few years, he was an area merchandise coordinator, then a regional account manager for Texas and Oklahoma, with 3 major supermarket chains as his main clients. I remember him writing up his sales reports and customer contact reports, and bringing them to my sisters, and later to me, to rewrite them for him so that the spelling was correct. He could add numbers for 5 figure sales in his head, but he could not spell the names of the supermarket he sold it to. He had never learned to write in cursive at all, other than to sign his name.
But, even with his lack of education, he was the smartest man I ever met. He had more common sense than anyone I have ever encountered, and he could read a person within minutes of meeting them. I never knew his instincts to be wrong.
He retired in 82 while I was in the Navy, and when I came back home, he became my best friend. I lost him in 1997, at the age of 80.
I am going to be publishing a series of articles about the lessons I learned from this man, and I just wanted you to know a little about him while reading those articles. It might make how and why he taught them a bit clearer to you.